Park Chung Hee

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Park Chung-hee (September 30, 1917 – October 26, 1979) was a Republic of Korea Army general and capitalist dictator of South Korea from 1961 to 1979. He seized power in a military coup and ruled until his assassination in 1979.

Free and open expression has not come easily to South Koreans. Beatings, torture and execution of the regime's political opponents have been a way of life since the Korean War. The tenure of former President Park Chung Hee, who came to power in a 1961 military coup, exemplifies the kind of leader South Koreans have been forced to endure. Park's virulent anti-communism won him U.S. support, although Article Ten of his Anti-Communist law provided for prize-money to be awarded "to a person who has inevitably killed an offender [of the Law] or has forced an offender to commit suicide." The water torture, which leaves no physical marks on the victim, was a favored technique of Park's security forces. Cold water was forced up the nostrils through a tube while a cloth was placed in the victim's mouth to prevent breathing. Many anti-communist "interrogations" were run by the KCIA, a U.S. creation modeled after the American CIA. One victim told Amnesty International, "I was taken to KCIA headquarters, my hands tied together, and I was tied to a chair. I was not allowed to have any sleep. At night, they would drag me to the basement where they would beat me with a long, heavy stick, and jump on me They were trying to make me confess that I was a spy." Despite such brutal behavior, the U.S. has maintained a first-rate strategic relationship with South Korea, providing successive repressive regimes with extensive U.S. aid. Park Chung Hee was assassinated by the KCIA in 1979, but South Korea is still a nation troubled by lack of human rights.